Saturday, July 24, 2010

"God does not exist, and he is a monster." Say What?!

...SSL: Everyone is equally immersed in sin and all deserve justice. God is under no obligation to grant mercy to anyone. That He chooses to save some out of the common mass of humanity does not require Him to save all. Some get mercy - some get justice. Nobody gets injustice.

BS: You are just trying to post hoc justify the monster.

SSL: No. I was merely summarizing Paul's Epistle to the Romans in one paragraph.

BS: And yet it still does not make God any less of a monster. You and Paul were just trying to rationalize the cognitive dissonance in your mind. You see God is a monster for torturing some and saving others just by his own whim, when he has the power to save them all, so you have to come up with a reason for God letting some people go to Hell. This is the post hoc rationalization you give; it is a means to ease cognitive dissonance. Like GE said, it gets even more twisted the more of God's powers you throw in to the mix. The God of Calvinism is a monster.

GE: Actually the god of Christianity. Only that Calvinists are closer to describing it as such.

_______________________________________


“You and Paul were just trying to rationalize the cognitive dissonance in your mind.”

It may just be the other way around for those who call God "a monster." Consider this scenario as a possibility :

As each weekend arrives and passes, you* are living in anticipation of the approaching day when you* will be summoned to give a final accounting for your* life, when the complete history of your* actions, words, thoughts and intentions will be on exhibit as evidence to be evaluated by the Righteous Judge. Your* own conscience will be a witness.

In addition to that anticipation, you* harbor contradictory thoughts about your* Creator and Judge. On one hand, you* deny his very being, yet simultaneously you* do acknowledge his being, but only for the purpose of ridicule and making accusations against him. This is a recipe for cognitive dissonance “on steroids.”

How can you* cope with this? Perhaps you* recall the passage from Daniel where the prophet speaks of the resurrection at the time of the end: And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2). C.S. Lewis wrote, “In the end that Face that is the terror or delight of the universe must be turned on each of us either with one expression or the other, either conferring glory inexpressible or inflicting shame that can never be cured or disguised.” You* are unwilling to come to Christ for forgiveness and everlasting life; but you* cannot bear the idea of being an object of shame and contempt for eternity.

So, how do you* handle that? You* project your* own guilt and unrighteousness onto the holy Creator and Judge. There it is. You* have imaged a god who is a monster "as a means to ease cognitive dissonance."

The apostle Paul encouraged believers by telling them that God "...chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved" (Eph. 1:4,5) . But God's Eternal Decree does not bar anyone who wants to be saved by Christ from entering heaven, nor does it force others unwillingly to be saved.

Where there is breath and a heartbeat, there is life; and where there is life, there is hope. Jesus said, "I am the door. if anyone enters through me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture" (John 10:9).

In the words of John Gerstner:

"The "door" is Christ. Anyone may enter it, but the time for repentance is now. Today anyone may enter and be saved. Avail yourself of the means that God has provided - The Word of God, prayer, church, preaching. That is, expose yourself to God's truth and the means of grace He has made available."

and,

"Jesus Christ calls everyone, everywhere to confess his sin and trust in Jesus for his salvation and deliverance."
...
"I call everyone, everywhere to come who will acknowledge his sin and bring his guilt and need to Jesus Christ, and I assure him, without any qualification, that in doing that he will most certainly be saved eternally by the blood of Jesus Christ"

_____________________________

*('You*' and 'your*' indicate anyone who describes God as a "monster," not BS and GE in particular.)

(The C.S. Lewis quote is from the book, The Weight of Glory.)

(The John Gerstner quotes are from Theology for Everyman, and A Primer on the Atonement.)

78 comments:

Whateverman said...

This post was too fractured, Craig. I had a hard time figuring out what you were trying to say...

IRT your scenario, was this something I was supposed to accept for the sake of argument? or was it your argument as to what situation your "detractors" were in? it seemed more like that latter, in which case I take issue with your analysis as follows:

In addition to that anticipation, you* harbor contradictory thoughts about your* Creator and Judge. On one hand, you* deny his very being, yet simultaneously you* do acknowledge his being, but only for the purpose of ridicule and making accusations against him. This is a recipe for cognitive dissonance “on steroids.”

Ridiculing God is not acknowledging his being. The ridicule is aimed at the concept of the Biblical deity, not at the deity himself.

Ergo, there's no cognitive dissonance.

In conversations with Christians like you, I'm forced to accept their definition of God. I do this willingly, because to quibble about definitions before ideas are expressed pretty much ruins the chance of having a conversation. If you and I want to talk about Christian doctrine, I'm going to have to accept your basic premise to some extent.

Why you would then assume this acceptance constitutes admitting that God exists is beyond me. Really, it's almost infuriating.

Ridiculing your ideas about God does not imply that I accept the existence of Him.

---

PS. understand that I'm not particularly angry here :) You and I have had plenty of exchanges, and even though we disagree substantially, I've always enjoyed them. This exchange is no different.

Whateverman said...

For future reference, whenever an atheist or skeptic makes fun of God, you can safely assume they're making fun of the theist's ideas about God.

The Bible makes very little sense to me. I am not required to accept its veracity in order to come to that conclusion.

stranger.strange.land said...

Thanks Jon.
I appreciate what you said.

Actually, it is my personal theory, speculating about the reasoning behind the "God is a monster" statement that I see so frequently these days.

G.E. and BeamStalk had taken the liberty of diagnosing the reasoning behind my (and St. Paul's) conclusion, stated in the opening paragraph, and I noticed that the reason they offered could easily work both ways. I used that as a springboard for this post.

Craig

Noble said...

I have to say this is somewhat disappoint, Craig. The headline reads a recycle of one of Bananman's posts. Ditto what Whateverman said. God is like a fictional character for us. Do have to believe in The Joker from Batman in order to despise him?

Whateverman said...

Craig wrote the following to me: it is my personal theory, speculating about the reasoning behind the "God is a monster" statement that I see so frequently these days.

You wouldn't see that statement if all Christians did was to say that God exists. The problem is that all kinds of stuff is attributed to this deity, all by people who claim infallible knowledge about Him.

Much of this stuff is contradictory. God being omnibenevolent is incompatible with his behavior in the Old testament, and it's incompatible with the notion that He chose whether I will go to Heaven or be tortured for eternity long before I was born.

I'll be honest here, Craig: I think it's a bit unfair to call each Christian to task for things said by other Christians. Nonetheless, talking about this deity as if you DO understand his nature gives the opinions of other Christians relevance.

God as he is described by Christians is indeed a monster, for the contradictions can not be resolved without picking & choosing which descriptions are accurate and which are not. And since no one provides an objective method to know which are correct and which aren't, God's character is questionable at best.

Were he mortal, no one would hesitate placing him alongside the worst despots of human history. No person is deserving of eternal torture for not believing in something.

stranger.strange.land said...

Jon

Read the top of the page where I pasted the comments from the previous post. G.E. and BeamStalk clearly implied that Christians (including St. Paul) really do believe that the God in whom we trust is an immoral monster, but that we "come up with a reason for God letting some people go to hell" as a rationalization for the purpose of easing cognitive dissonance. They claimed to know what Christians really believe even though it is not what Christians say they believe.

I then pointed out that their reasoning can work both ways, and suggested a scenario that illustrated how it could.

I tried to be gentle and respectful in sugesting an alternate explanation; I didn't even come close to touching the "third rail" (Romans 1:20;2:15).

IRT your scenario, was this something I was supposed to accept for the sake of argument? or was it your argument as to what situation your "detractors" were in? it seemed more like that latter, in which case I take issue with your analysis.

If none of the elements in my scenario apply to you personally, then ignore it. (Not everybody has read Daniel) If the shoe doesn't fit don't put it on. But if anything in the story strikes a chord in the heart of someone reading it, the scenario can serve as a prelude to the Gospel presentation which follows.

Craig

stranger.strange.land said...

I understand the "...if your God existed" qualifier, but I honestly don't buy it, at least not in most cases. Occasionally someone, like WEM, is careful to say, "I don't believe there is a god, but for the sake of argument...", but usually they don't.

The reason I say that I don't buy it is that the invectives are often so vehement and personal in nature. They lack the detatched, objective quality that you find in, say, a purely academic analysis. They give all the appearance of an objector who really has something personal against a God whom they know exists.

I once had a conversation (on Trish's blog) in which I offered to show that there are reasons for the proposition that there is a being which explains everything else that exists. The atheist had said that there are absolutely no reasons. We both agreed to restrict our discussion to that one point. I didn't even claim to prove that the reasons were necessarily conclusive reasons, only to show that there are reasons. After a few comments were exchanged, he refused to continue the conversation and said, "god is a monster, and he deserves to be put on trial for crimes against humanity."

That is the kind of thing that I see so frequently on Ray's blog, and that inspired the headline for this post.

Craig

photosynthesis said...

Hey Craig,

Sorry, but this does not fly well. You can criticize a fictional character. You have a reference to Darth Vader here, and nobody would say you believe this character exists. I never implied your god to exist. I said that the character you believe to exist is a monster. These "if he doesn't exist why do you criticize it" arguments are insulting.

They claimed to know what Christians really believe even though it is not what Christians say they believe.

That you describe the monstrosities as perfect justice and love does not mean we don't know what you believe. I know what you believe. But, in your mind, it is impossible to see that what you describe is a monster.

Note that Christians often only answer with red-herrings. For instance: "by which standard of morality do you judge my god!" So, instead of checking the claim, they are clearly saying that without god we can't make the claim. Do you see the problem at all? Christians trap themselves in this dilemma, meaning that no matter how monstrous an action, if it is their god, they can't judge the action. They don't dare to even think how bad it looks "from the outside." If the chat were about a mob boss, they would clearly see it. But if it is their god, they will always answer with these evasions.

Finally, I note again that my leaving the faith was completely peaceful. No hatred, no hardships involved. I just came to understand the fantasy for what it is. I learned about the immorality and monstrosity very much later. (Well, while I was a believer I was shocked when I read a few parts of the O.T. for the first time. I could not believe my god would do that. But I thought that this god would have a good reason even if I could not understand it. Classic self-evasive maneuver.)

G.E.

Whateverman said...

I think that's a good point, Craig.

I try very hard to be careful about what I say, and I don't see other people doing the same. There's a major difference between "God doesn't exist" and "I think God doesn't exist".

Atheists who say the former usually, when pressed, admit they don't know this for sure, or that it's their opinion. They choose to say it this way, I believe, for several reasons:

1) it's easier to say without using the words "I think"

2) it gives the idea more force/weight. Who cares what a random internet schlub thinks. But, a blanket statement is much more interesting

3) when conversing with a person, every single thing said is an opinion. There are no exceptions to this rule. As such, adding "I think" to every opinion gets redundant.

So, where does that leave us?

I tackle the opinions of those who (I believe) fail to understand their words are no more than opinions; I leave alone those whom I trust. If a person demonstrates some thoughtfulness but then makes a blanket statement, I occasionally remind them of the gaffe and then continue as if we both accept the discussion involves opinion (not fact).

In short, I understand why you reacted Craig, but I don't think your analogy was even close to being a fair representation of the opinions you referred to:)

GE and Beams were referring to Christian ideas about god, not God himself. I think you know this, deep down (<--- not meant as an accusation).

It's a demonstrable fact that God can not exhibit *all* of the traits Christians claim he exhibits. At least, not without fundamentally redefining terms such as "love" and "justice" and "goodness". Those new definitions would only apply to God, and not to human beings who actually came up with the words in the first place. "Love" would entail torturing a person for an infinite amount of time; "justice" would involve meting out the same level of punishment for a lack of belief as for the rape/murder of children; "goodness" would apply to someone with an infinite capacity to solve the problems of another person - to know the problems exist and do nothing about it.

Pointing out these fundamental contradictions in no way concedes the existence of God.

photosynthesis said...

Craig,

Read the top of the page where I pasted the comments from the previous post. G.E. and BeamStalk clearly implied that Christians (including St. Paul) really do believe that the God in whom we trust is an immoral monster

Not a single time did I say that Christians do believe that the god they trust is a monster. Not once. Check it out please. I said that no matter what this monster would do, you would not see the monstrosity.

G.E.

Eddie Eddings said...

Above all else, the Bible declares that God is HOLY. His love is a holy love and his wrath is a holy wrath. Only a sinful creature would dare call their Creator a monster.
If your son was beaten and tortured to death and the man responsible was set free by a judge who was bribed, you would have TWO monsters. But God is a HOLY Judge who cannot be bribed. He doesn't over punish or under punish those in Hell. He exacts out the punishment to fit the crime, or sin. People continue to sin in Hell and continue to be punished, justly. There is no such thing as ONE sin, because sin effects everyone involved. To be justly punished for killing a child, for instance, a person whould have to feel everything that victim felt, physically and emotionally - and the agony and heartache every person felt who knew or heard about it. First and foremost ALL sin is against a holy God.
The Bible says that all men are without excuse.
An atheist doesn't want God. And he mocks Him and the fact that he will have to answer (and pay) for every sin he has ever committed.
For a mortal to "judge" God is one of the most foolish things he can do...but, of course, there is no such thing as a wise atheist.

BeamStalk said...

Craig,

You asked what we thought of the Calvinist idea of God. I responded. Check my last reply in the thread, notice I specifically state I am talking about Calvin's ideas and not all Christians, please don't straw man me.

WEM, summed everything up nicely in his first comment.

So let's start over again. Do you think God is omnibenevolent (all good)? Is God omnipotent (all powerful)? Is God omniscient (all knowing)?

BeamStalk said...

Oh Eddie, you need to first prove that we are created by an outside being. Next you need to prove that this being is the God of the Bible and not one of the thousands of other creator gods (Enki is cool).

You are just asserting that you are right without proof. What convinced you that God was real?

Of course you could always just call people names...

For a mortal to "judge" God is one of the most foolish things he can do...but, of course, there is no such thing as a wise atheist.

Oh, you did that, nice ad hom. Aren't the fruits of the spirit love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? How are you exhibiting love, longsuffering, goodness, kindness, gentleness and self-control by calling people names?

photosynthesis said...

Eddie!

So you are the idiot of the Calvinist cartoons! Nice to meet you too.

G.E.

Eddie Eddings said...

"BeamStalk said...
Oh Eddie, you need to first prove that we are created by an outside being. Next you need to prove that this being is the God of the Bible and not one of the thousands of other creator gods (Enki is cool)."

I don't have to prove anything.
I was never called to be a lawyer - just a witness.

"photosynthesis said...
Eddie!

So you are the idiot of the Calvinist cartoons! Nice to meet you too."

The pleasure was all mine.
If I agreed with you, we would both be wrong.

BeamStalk said...

Twist and dodge, well played, ignore the rest of what I said. Especially when I asked what made you believe.

Eddie Eddings said...

God made me believe. I was an atheist before my conversion.

Whateverman said...

Eddy Eddings wrote the following: Above all else, the Bible declares that God is HOLY

Above all else, the Bible was written by many men over many years. it is the work of human beings, not deities, and as such, it's not surprising that its description of God is contradictory.

If the Bible says "God is holy", the Bible also says "God is vengeful" and "God is loving".

Imagine a human who's holy and vengeful and loving...

It would be impossible for a human to be these three things all at once. Why? Because these adjectives conflict with each other. If a single human were described by three different authors, though, who all lived at different times...

---

In short, the Bible telling us anything about the nature of God isn't particularly enlightening, nor is it reliable. You assuming differently, Eddy, is what sets you apart from most of Christianity.

BeamStalk said...

So Eddy is God all loving and all good?

stranger.strange.land said...

Beam

The statement that some people receive mercy, some receive justice, and that nobody get's injustice is not exclusive to Calvinists, neither is the book of Romans. So your charge of coming up with a rationalization to ease cognative dissonance necessarily applies to all who believe the teaching of the book of Romans.

Yes, it was G.E. who added, "Actually the god of Christianity. Only that Calvinists are closer to describing it as such." I am glad that you disagree with him there.

I wasn't strawmanning you. If I misunderstood what you meant, maybe you could re-phrase it for me.

Best to you, my friend.

Craig

photosynthesis said...

Eddie,

For a mortal to "judge" God is one of the most foolish things he can do...but, of course, there is no such thing as a wise atheist.

Of course if your god existed judging "him" would be foolish. Not because the descriptions of this god would be any less monstrous, but because there would be no way of escaping this monster's sight and punishment. Good thing that he is imaginary, because, even if he existed, I could not stop thinking of such being as a monster. I can't lie to myself.

If I agreed with you, we would both be wrong.

Shit, if I agreed with you I would be a despicable coward (I am not saying you are, but that I would be if I changed and agreed with you). So I agree that it is good that we don't agree.

G.E.

photosynthesis said...

Eddie,

An atheist doesn't want God. And he mocks Him and the fact that he will have to answer (and pay) for every sin he has ever committed.

Bullshit. For a very long time I didn't want to stop believing, but my reason showed me that this god did not exist. No matter how much I tried to find reasons for believing, I could not find them. I only started understanding the monstrosity of the Christian god much later.

You might want to know that mindless blanket generalizations, stupidity and self-righteousness, don't pass for witnessing.

G.E.

Eddie Eddings said...

“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and attack you.”
Jesus' words - Sermon on the Mount

I hear a lot of grunting and snorting, so I will refrain from presenting you with anything of real eternal value.

Whateverman said...

Eddy, your heart is hard. God gave you a brain - he would not then require that you reject what it tells you...

Stop listening to what Men tell you about how you should worship. Read your Bible. Listen with your heart and mind. Stop using catch-phrases and techniques popular in Christian culture.

Pretending to be intellectually superior really just makes you look like an oaf...

PS. sorry Craig, I've let myself add to the thread's derailment...

photosynthesis said...

Eddie,

I hear a lot of grunting and snorting, so I will refrain from presenting you with anything of real eternal value.

Yeah, nice cop-out Eddie. As if mindless generalizations about people you don't even know could pass for casting pearls. No surprise you don't see that you attacked first. Maybe it was us who were casting pearls before your swiness. There is a lesson for you to learn from that sermon. But you might not know that those lessons are meant for self-growth too. Where did I read something like "you reap what you sow"? I cannot remember ...

I am also out. Be happy.

G.E.

Eddie Eddings said...

As my pappy used to say..."Some fights are not worth fightin'. An Old English Sheepdog can whip a skunk, but it just ain't worth it!"

BeamStalk said...

Ahh more name calling, I am sure you make Jesus proud, instead of following say 1 Peter 3:15 "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."

No keep showing that you have true faith with fruits of your spirit and name calling.

BeamStalk said...

The statement that some people receive mercy, some receive justice, and that nobody get's injustice is not exclusive to Calvinists, neither is the book of Romans. So your charge of coming up with a rationalization to ease cognative dissonance necessarily applies to all who believe the teaching of the book of Romans.

This is true, but Calvinism does not really allow for free will, only God decides whom he calls. God has the power to save everyone but only saves some. That is my issue with Calvinism.

You are right I should not have included Paul in my statement of cognitive dissonance as I would have to go over all that Paul wrote, which we don't have. I will acquiesce that statement.

Yes, it was G.E. who added, "Actually the god of Christianity. Only that Calvinists are closer to describing it as such." I am glad that you disagree with him there.

I take each description as it comes, everyone, even just considering Christianity, seem to have a different idea of God.

I wasn't strawmanning you. If I misunderstood what you meant, maybe you could re-phrase it for me.

I meant more of the post here, I know you are not singling out GE or myself in it but it is still a bit of a strawman. You cannot just lump a bunch of people together and try to describe them, unless they have a communal set of ideology they agree to previously, but even then you can only say what they already agree to. It would be like lumping all denominations of Christians together and trying to make statements about them.

stranger.strange.land said...

I have just finished reviewing this post and some of the comments. If I were to write it again, there is essentially nothing that I would revise, with the possible exception of additional clarification in the footnote of what the word "you" indicates.

My "scenario" was a "suggestion" that I offered as a "possibility" that certain people may wish to consider. Not a dogmatic statement telling people what they think, but a hypothetical situation which may, or may not, strike a chord in the reader's conscience. Some of you may have observed that the scenario functioned as the first part of a Law/Gospel presentation.

My hope that the presentation will strike a chord with someone is not based on an over-optimism of a quixotical nature, but rather a calm confidence that God, if He chooses, will use it in accomplishing His purpose.

So, I repeat here the words of Dr. Gerstner, which was both a general and specific call, addressed to Whosoever Will...

Jesus said, "I am the door. If anyone enters through me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture" (John 10:9).

"The "door" is Christ. It is now open, but one day it will be shut. Anyone may enter it, but the time for repentance is now. Today anyone may enter and be saved. Avail yourself of the means that God has provided - The Word of God, prayer, church, preaching. That is, expose yourself to God's truth and the means of grace He has made available."

"Jesus Christ calls everyone, everywhere to confess his sin and trust in Jesus for his salvation and deliverance."
...
"I call everyone, everywhere to come who will acknowledge his sin and bring his guilt and need to Jesus Christ, and I assure him, without any qualification, that in doing that he will most certainly be saved eternally by the blood of Jesus Christ"

Eddie Eddings said...

Two of the most shocking things for a twenty first-century American Christian to read are the works of Martin Luther and John Calvin, for these men, who were valiant for the truth, did not hesitate to call people names. Are Luther and Calvin wrong to do this? The only way for a Christian to discover the answer is to examine the Scriptures.
Unfortunately, most professed Christians today seem never to have gotten past Matthew 7. That’s too bad, for they should proceed to read Matthew 23. In that chapter alone, Christ calls the scribes and Pharisees names 16 times. The names are “hypocrites” (7 times), “son of Hell” (once),”blind guides” (twice), “fools and blind” (3 times), “whited sepulchres” (once), “serpents” (once), and “offspring of vipers” (once). Since Christ was without sin, we may deduce by good and necessary consequence that name-calling as such is not a sin. Since everything Christ did was righteous and virtuous, we may deduce by good and necessary consequence that accurate name-calling is a virtue.
But Christ is not the only example. John, who some professed Christians love to quote because they misunderstand and misrepresent what he says about love, calls certain persons known to his readers “liars” and “antichrists.” Those sensitive souls who flinch when they read chapter 25 of the Westminster Confession identifying the pope as antichrist should read 1 John 2 and 2 John. John was not talking about someone far off in Rome; he was referring to persons known to his readers.
Then there is Paul, who in 1 Corinthians corrected those at Corinth who denied the resurrection. In chapter 15, verse 36, he refers to one objector as a fool. And can we not conclude from Psalms 14:1 and 53:1 that Madalyn O’Hair, for example, was a fool? Further, in 1 Timothy 4:2 Paul refers to “hypocritical liars” and in 5:13 he writes of “gossips and busybodies.” Those who object to name-calling must object to the practice of Jesus, Paul, and John, among many others.

Whateverman said...

Eddie Eddings asked the following rhetorically: And can we not conclude from Psalms 14:1 and 53:1 that Madalyn O’Hair, for example, was a fool?

I don't know. This is your book, Eddie - you be the judge:

“Whoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”

- Matthew 5:22

Eddie Eddings said...

If it grunts and snorts and wallows in filth - it's a pig.

Whateverman said...

@Eddie: why even post here? You're not adding to the discussion...

@Craig: thanks for the sincere concern. If I take a certain branch of Christianity's word that the conscience is God's way of steering us towards the right decisions, then your scenario didn't touch me. I don't say this with any malice.

In any case, what is your response IRT "God not existing" while at the same time "being a monster"? Your detractors were talking about Christian concepts of this deity, not the deity himself.

photosynthesis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
photosynthesis said...

If it grunts and snorts and wallows in filth - it's a pig.

Good to know you would recognize yourself in the mirror Eddie.

Those grunts and snorts and snarls are the echoes of your own voice you idiot. Take a moment to contemplate a few little lessons from the Bible about yourself and grow up those fruits from the spirit.

---

Of course name-calling appropriately would not be wrong. See that I have called you an idiot, a swine, and some other well-deserved things. The difference with you being that I can back it up.

Comparing yourself to a sinless, if imaginary, Christ, and other lesser characters in the Bible adds to your deserving further: self-righteous idiot of a swine. See? perfectly justified and backed up name-calling directly in your face.

Now hush you little piggie. We have better conversations to exchange, and you have a lot to learn. Go learn.

G.E.

(EDIT: Changed the insult for a PG-13 out of respect for Craig.)

photosynthesis said...

Oh how sweet, Eddie put his self-portrait in his blog and linked to these comments so other Christians could see his behavior.

Good boy Eddie, good boy. Here, have a cookie.

G.E.

stranger.strange.land said...

Jon, (okay to use your name here? I think everybody knows you.)

I used "monster" here because that happened to be the word that being bantered about for the last couple of posts. What lies behind my thinking here is the impression I am continually given, especially at AC, that these people are really speaking against someone they don't like.

I am sure that you have seen me say many times something like, "They want to have it both ways. First they banish God to the realm of non-existence. Then they resurrect Him back into existence just so they can beat him up a bit." Metaphorical, to be sure, but there seems to be something to it.

(There is a rhetorical trick in polemics where someone cleverly makes a statements that appear to be both defending and opposing X. When his opponent challenges him for supporting X he reminds him that he said he opposed it. And vice versa. This may be what is going on.)

At any rate, Christian scripture does also have many passages praising God for His great love and goodness, as well as others that portray Him as terrifying. But I have never heard an atheist or agnostic say anything like: "You know, I don't believe any of this about a god who raises us from the dead, getting to live for ever and all that. But it sure would be nice if it were true."

It may be that someone has said it, it is just that I've never heard it.

Craig

photosynthesis said...

Craig,

It may be that someone has said it, it is just that I've never heard it.

Oh but I have said it. Long long ago, but I have. The problem is that you caught me at the moment of truly examining the Christian beliefs overall.

To be fair too, I have seen several, not just a few, atheists who have expressed just that thought. That it would be nice of some god existed who was good and granted eternal life. Some have expressed how good it would be if we knew that those doing evil deeds got what they deserved. Maybe you have forgotten them.

G.E.

stranger.strange.land said...

Thank you for bringing it to my attention, G.E. I would, of course, be disappointed if they are content to remain in their atheism, but I am pleased by what you just told me.

Craig

BeamStalk said...

Yes, Eddie you are so like Jesus, Paul and John. Now shall we talk about Pride? C.S. Lewis had some great things to say about pride. Or you can continue to ignore my questions for the reasons of your hope and thus ignore the Bible and what Peter said.

BeamStalk said...

Craig, I may not have said it anywhere you visit, but I agree with Carl Sagan when he said:

"I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking. The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there's little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides."

Whateverman said...

Heck, I'll say it myself with my own words:

I *love* the idea that there's someone watching me, who has a plan for me - and that there's a narrow road I can walk that'll take me to everlasting happiness. Such a thing would be take a great weight off my shoulders.

I'm not so sure I'm keen on the idea of this father figure sacrificing his son for me, because I believe there would be an infinite number of less barbaric methods to ensure my salvation. Nonetheless, if the sacrifice actually took place, then I would be grateful for / humbled by it.

stranger.strange.land said...

Thanks, Beam

That certainly is much more kind and gentle than the things that some commenters post at AC about what they are going to say to God when they finally see Him on judgment day.

Now you mention it, I do recall an article in one of the Sunday newspaper magazine supplements (Parade?) where Sagan said he appreciated the sentiments of the Christians who had written to say that they were praying for him as he was dying of cancer; although he added that he pitied them for their beliefs.

Carl Sagan's view is quite a contrast to John Gerstner's plea for people to enter the door of salvation before in closes (at death).

Craig

Anette Acker said...

Whateverman,

That's very nice that you feel that way.

There are a number of theological reasons why Jesus had to die for us, but one very important one is that God did it to express His love for us in a way that we can viscerally understand, even if the Bible seems confusing. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." And Romans 8:32 asks the logical question: "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" God must have our very best in mind in order to make the sacrifice that He made.

If the Bible is true, then Satan must be real, and his first words in the opening pages of the Bible were to malign God and make Eve question His love, by saying, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?'" Of course God had said that they could eat from any except one.

And Satan continues to twist the word of God so that many think of Him as evil and capricious. The Bible is a hard book to understand, because we have to read it in context, including the cultural context. And we have to make sure we don't read assumptions into it that are not there. It takes a long time to understand how it fits together, and none of us will fully understand it in this life.

But in the meantime, the cross is God's way of communicating the depth of His love for us.

Whateverman said...

Hi Annette...

Before I respond, I just want to mention that although i wont comment at Atheist central, I've enjoyed reading your thoughts there.

Here's the thing, Annette: no matter how many times a Christian applauds it, I don't respect/love a person who sacrifices their family member for me. I don't want it in any way, for any reason. i would consider such a person to be mentally deficient.

And when it comes to an all-powerful deity doing the same thing, it doesn't inspire awe or humility in me. The behavior is psychotic. Such a deity has an infinite number of ways of showing me his love and compassion, most of which should be more humane AND more inspiring.

I'm *not* asking for this to happen, but it would be infinitely more convincing if God simultaneously communicated his message to everyone in my town/city/nation - telepathically. Have him speak to me personally in a way that I can know it's him (and not a delusion).

Sacrifice is remarkably similar to other bronze-aged values IRT virtue. There'd be no need for such a deity to appeal to human standards; heck, I submit that it'd be UNGODLY to do so.

And while I'm talking about it, let's not forget that God didn't actually sacrifice his son. Jesus had a bad weekend for my sins. It would be more convincing if Jesus had actually died, gone to hell and stayed there. THAT would be a sacrifice.

DeAthan Gel said...

My dear WhateverUR,
You said, "And while I'm talking about it, let's not forget that God didn't actually sacrifice his son. Jesus had a bad weekend for my sins. It would be more convincing if Jesus had actually died, gone to hell and stayed there. THAT would be a sacrifice."

Satan couldn't have said it better!

Whateverman said...

Hi 'Gel,

Actually, Satan would have known that even if Jesus had gone to Hell, God would still be around to kick some righteous butt. So no, Satan would not have been particularly overjoyed.

The words were mine, not Satan's.

You need to spend some time examining your beliefs...

PS. thanks for the backhanded insult. Always a joy to converse with civilized people.

Anette Acker said...

Thank you, Whateverman.

I just want to address this part of your comment for now because I'm currently working on a blog post on the subject. (But I will get back to your other points as soon as I have time.)

And while I'm talking about it, let's not forget that God didn't actually sacrifice his son. Jesus had a bad weekend for my sins. It would be more convincing if Jesus had actually died, gone to hell and stayed there. THAT would be a sacrifice.

An atheist who comments on my blog (clamflats) asked me to do a post on the immortal soul and hell, so I've extensively researched what the Bible teaches on those subjects. I have come to the conclusion that I (and other Christians) have assumed things that are not actually in the Bible. I think the reason why we rarely think hard about what the Bible says about hell is that most of us don't like to think about it.

First, the words "immortal soul" are nowhere in the Bible. The idea came from the Greek philosophers like Plato, who heavily influenced the church fathers. In fact, 1 Timothy 6:16 says that God alone possesses immortality. The words "immortal" or "immortality" are only used in the context of God and the redeemed on the day of judgment (Romans 2:7, 1 Cor. 15:53-54, 1 Tim. 6:16-17, and 2 Tim. 1:10). The soul that sins will die (Ezekiel 18:20).

God said very clearly to Adam that sin leads to death, not eternal life with torture. Christians have to read that into the text in order to reach that conclusion. Romans 6:23 confirms what God said to Adam: "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

So the Bible teaches that when we die, all our mental functions cease. Psalm 146:3 says, "Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation. His Spirit departs, he returns to the earth; in that very day his thoughts perish." And Ecclesiastes 8:5 says, "For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything."

However, Jesus refers to death as "sleep," because all the dead will be resurrected when Jesus comes again. Since death is essentially a dreamless sleep, it will be the very next thing we experience after we die. That will be Judgment Day.

And the redeemed will then be granted an indestructible body (1 Corinthians 15:53-54) and immortality, but the unsaved will be completely annihilated. This is the second death and it is permanent. The Bible uses the word "destruction" to describe it. Matthew 10:28 says that God is able to destroy both body and soul in hell. If He destroys the soul, it ceases to exist. Psalm 37:20 says, "But the wicked will perish; and the enemies of the Lord will be like the glory of the pastures, they vanish--like smoke they vanish away." Malachi 4:3 talks about the day of judgment when it says, "'You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,' says the Lord of hosts."

And as a matter of simple logic, if the penalty for sin is eternal conscious torture, then Jesus did not pay it on our behalf. However, if it is death, like the Bible plainly states, He did pay it in full.

Whateverman said...

Annette wrote the following to me: {...} And as a matter of simple logic, if the penalty for sin is eternal conscious torture, then Jesus did not pay it on our behalf. However, if it is death, like the Bible plainly states, He did pay it in full.

I couldn't agree more. Thanks Annette.

stranger.strange.land said...

DeAthan Gel
&Whateverman

I don't know what Satan might say, but, as I understand it, Christian theology teaches that the incarnation of Christ as a human, his death, burial and resurrection for sinners is the essense of Satan's eternal undoing. One can only imagine what he said when he found out that his scheme had been righteously defeated. Maybe he said,"*#@#&$$#*~!!!!!!"

stranger.strange.land said...

Anette,

I hope I can get my browser to sync with your comment window by the time you post that article. (see my latest email to you)

BTW, is that what the church where you are a member teaches? (What is your church, anyway?)

Craig

Anette Acker said...

Craig,

My church is a community church--just a regular evangelical church.

I didn't get this from church. I got it from reading the Bible very carefully on this subject for the first time. In other words, I'm making the choice to go to God's word directly and read it without cultural assumptions. In fact, most churches don't talk about hell, because the traditional view is so horrible that it makes no sense. I have attended evangelical churches my whole adult life, and I've never heard a sermon on the subject of hell.

If you think that I am wrong and you're a Calvinist, do you believe that God predestines most of humanity to eternal, unceasing torture? If so, life itself is worse than a game of Russian roulette, except none of us are given a choice whether or not to play.

Anette Acker said...

I don't think too many Christians really believe that the unsaved will be tortured forever and ever. First, according to Matthew 25 and Luke 16 that person has to really love other people and not be indifferent to their suffering, in order to qualify as being saved. (The rich man was indifferent to Lazarus and the "goats" ignored the needs of the "least of these." Only their sins of omission--their lack of love--is even mentioned.)

This means that such a Christian will do everything in his or her power to prevent anyone from suffering such a horrible fate. But according to Ray, only 2% of Christians even share their faith. And of the 2%, I've seen many mock and drive non-believers further away rather than to meet them where they are and show the love of Christ.

That leaves very few who act as if they really believe that anything awaits us after death. And what we do is far more indicative of what we really believe than what we say.

But I did not base my conclusion on my visceral reaction to eternal torture; I had that reaction for a long time and I still believed in it. I based it on the Bible, which is why I quoted it extensively (the Bible does not contradict itself, and those verses are unequivocal).

The verses that talk about "eternal punishment," however, are equivocal, because the word "eternal" doesn't always mean forever and ever. For example, Jude 1:7 says that Sodom and Gomorrah underwent the punishment of eternal fire. Well, that fire is not still burning and the eternal fire destroyed them completely. This typifies eternal judgment according to Jude, and yet nobody saw outlines of screaming ghosts after these people died. They were simply destroyed.

Also, since Matthew 25:46 is one of the verses that talk about "eternal punishment," the context gives us no assurance as Christians that it won't include us. According to 25:31-46, the simple absence of love will put us in the goat camp. Only if we abide in Christ and are like Him do we have confidence on the day of judgment (1 John 2:28-29, 1 John 4:17).

photosynthesis said...

Anette,

Eternal is eternal. Jude might have meant that the fire came from her god, thus they got the punishment of the eternal fire would mean the fire that came to burn them is eternal, not that the cities would continue to burn. It could also mean that the people of those cities continue to burn in the afterlife.

You rather interpret that other way (eternal not meaning eternal, right) so that the Bible looks non-contradictory. This is a way to protect yourself from the contradictions. But does not make sense otherwise.

Thus, you found contradictory ideas. Some parts of the Bible say it is eternal punishment, some say differently.

Another contradiction for you to play: sinners will be punished according to their sin. Yet, anger is murder. Thus, no difference really in punishment if you got angry or you murdered someone. Thus, contradictory.

G.E.

Anette Acker said...

G.E.,

Another contradiction for you to play: sinners will be punished according to their sin.

"The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). Unlike Dante's Inferno, the Bible says nothing about circles of hell. Sin means death. Tell me where in the Bible it says that sinners will be punished in other ways than death.

Also, eternal life starts the moment a person is born of the Spirit. It describes the quality of the life we are given, not just its duration. So "eternal" punishment, destruction, fire, etc., could just mean that it comes from the eternal realm. That is, it comes from God. In Leviticus 10:1-2, fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed Nadab and Abihu. This is another example of eternal fire from God. "God is a consuming fire," (Hebrews 12:29). He will not put up with sin forever.

Yet, anger is murder.

If we don't love other people, the eternal life of God (His Spirit) is not at work within us. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 gives a list of truly impressive things that are completely in vain if we lack love. Matthew 25:31-46 is consistent with this.

Isaiah 11:9 says: "They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea." This prophesies the new earth that God will create, where the problem of evil will be solved forever. Therefore, nobody who hurts others can live there.

Romans 2:5-8 says: "But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation."

So there is immortality on the one hand, and wrath and indignation on the day of judgment on the other hand. All of us have to face judgment, however.

stranger.strange.land said...

If you think that I am wrong and you're a Calvinist, do you believe that God predestines most of humanity to eternal, unceasing torture?

Sorry, you will have to wait for me to answer that one on your post about Hell. ;-) (Assuming the glitch is fixed by then.) If we open up that topic too much here, this could end up being The Thread From Hell

Hmmm... "The Thread From Hell," starring_______________.

photosynthesis said...

Hi Anette,

Thanks for your answer. I wrote the above very quickly because I am traveling again. Sorry if it sounded too harsh. I meant it though. Not the style but the substance. Contradictions are contradictions. Eternal is eternal.

G.E.

photosynthesis said...

Oh, and I also mean it.

Coming from your god as in the fire, makes sense that the fire is eternal, but not the burning. But punishment. Come on! Punishment has to mean eternal, not quality. Quality is a very different thing. No excuses. Eternal is eternal. The Bible is very contradictory.

Later!

G.E.

Anette Acker said...

If we open up that topic too much here, this could end up being The Thread From Hell

You're funny, Craig!

So you'd rather have my blog be "the blog from hell," huh? Of course I'm the one who started talking about hell . . . :)

Anette Acker said...

G.E.,

No, your reply did not sound at all harsh. But the Bible is not contradictory. It only seems that way when you don't understand it but you think you do. :)

How do you know what "eternal" means in the Bible? It was translated from Greek. How do you know there is a word that captures the exact meaning?

For example, this is what the NIV says about Isaiah 33:14: "The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: 'Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?'"

But Young's Literal Translation says: "Afraid in Zion have been sinners, Seized hath trembling the profane: Who doth dwell for us -- consuming fire, Who doth dwell for us -- burnings of the age?"

The word for "eternal" or "everlasting" is aionian which means "age."

Strong’s Concordance gives this definition for the word aion (eternity):

1) for ever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity 2) the worlds, universe 3) period of time, age.

So the word has a number of different meanings. Also, if eternal fire consumes us, we cease to exist. Same thing if it destroys us.

Anette Acker said...

G.E.,

Also, the burning bush that Moses saw was not consumed, so when the Bible wants to say that something is not consumed, it is very capable of doing so.

"The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed" (Exodus 3:2).

Today's Bible lesson:

Bush - not consumed

Sinners - consumed

See how simple that was?

stranger.strange.land said...

Okay, okay. I give up. You FORCED a comment out of me from a Calvinist's perspective. But just a short one (for now).

Actually, Calvinism per se focuses more on getting the Gospel right, that is, justification not by any (perceived) merits of our own, but all of Christ. The numerical ratio of the redeemed to the non-redeemed is not dealt with directly.

The "many and few" teachings are found mainly in the gospels and come from the lips of our Savior. In answer to the disciples' question, "Lord, are there only a few who will be saved?" he contrasts 1. those who will "seek to enter the kingdom of Heaven and will not be able" with 2. those who enter through Christ, the door.

The ones who were not able to enter did not seek entrance through Christ alone, but by some other means, such as superficial association ("Lord, we have eaten and drunk in your presence, you taught in our streets") or something they did ("Lord, we prophesied, cast out devils and did many wonderful works in your name").

So, for sure, Calvinists believe that the Bible teaches that a person's justification and eventual glorification in heaven is traced to God's predestination according to his own "good pleasure." And God also decreed to pass by the "wicked" and leave them to their own sinful desires which taking their course, in the end drag them down to hell.

The "secret ways " of God, though past our comprehension, are certainly a cause for wonder, aren't they.

My next post, about Judas, touches on this same idea.

Craig

Anette Acker said...

Craig,

Thanks for your reply!

Calvinism is only objectionable to people because of the traditional doctrine of hell. But Paul never once comes even close to teaching it. So if you look at Romans 9 in the context of hell meaning simply a permanent second death, it makes more sense. Eternal life is not something people have a right to. But it is morally appalling if it means eternal torture. Why read something like that into the Bible when it says that the wages of sin is death?

Have you ever tortured a cat, Craig? What about a really bad cat? If it's your cat, it should be okay, right? Job 4:17 says, "Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his maker?" (Incidentally, note the word "mortal" there.)

It is morally right to put to sleep a dog that bites or a cat with rabies, because of their danger to others, but we do not have the right to torture them. Likewise, God has the moral right to permanently take away the life of those who do not qualify for His inheritance (those who "do harm"), but not to torture most of humanity forever.

On the cross, He said, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." So we may be sinful and foolish, but if Calvin is right, we are "totally depraved" so there is nothing we can do about our condition unless God shows us mercy. Should He torture us if He chooses not to save us? Of course not! And He doesn't.

P.S. How frustrating that the comment section of my blog is garbled to you. I wonder why that happens and how many others have that problem.

Anette Acker said...

The "secret ways " of God, though past our comprehension, are certainly a cause for wonder, aren't they.

Yes, but He has revealed a lot in His word. He has given us the power to reason, so I think (actually I know) that He wants us to try to make sense of His mysteries.

"It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter" (Proverbs 25:2).

BeamStalk said...

Ah Hell, I step away for a few days and all Hell breaks loose.


Sorry I couldn't help myself.

stranger.strange.land said...

Hey Beam

You never know what is going to happen next on this blog. It is a "Strange Land" after all. I am sure that there are limits, though. For instance, something like a guy showing up wearing a space helmet and taking on atheists just can't happen.

Craig

stranger.strange.land said...

Anette said...

Thanks for your reply!

Well, it was a reply, but it said nothing about a "Calvinistic" or "Reformed" doctrine on God "predestinating most of humanity to eternal torture." That is what you had asked for. Calvinists have to depend on an exegesis of the Scriptures themselves just like Arminians, Evangelicals, etc., etc.

Were you responding to something I actually said, or were you reading something into it?

I am looking forward to seeing your blog post on the topic of hell. My Internet Explorer doesn't work well with your blog. I can see the comments clearly with Firefox. (I.E. works more smoothly with just about everything else.) So we are good to go.

"It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter" (Proverbs 25:2).

and

The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deut. 29:29)

Both are equally true and are the Word of God. There are some things that God has for us to search out, and there are others that are hidden in the depths of the Divine mind and are mysteries to us. If we can discern hidden truths through carefully examining the Scriptures, that is wonderful and I am sure it pleases our Father. But if there are other things which He has not been pleased to reveal to us, all our probing will only result in uncertain speculations.

Craig

Anette Acker said...

Were you responding to something I actually said, or were you reading something into it?

Well, maybe I was responding to objections I have not yet received. :)

BTW, I posted my blog post and look forward to getting your comments.

Anette Acker said...

Whateverman, I don't know if you're still reading this, but if you are and you reply, I will answer your question about why Jesus had to die for us.

Whateverman said...

Hi Annette,

Yep, I'm still lurking. I'd be interested in reading your explanation for the sacrifice.

Without being too much of a stick-in-the-mud though, you've got an impossible task (IMHO). Omnipotent beings don't need to do anything. Ever. They can solve any situation in every way imaginable, and in ways that are well-beyond our imaginations.

However, I *am* interested in hearing why you think it was necessary.

Anette Acker said...

Hi Whateverman,

An impossible task? You could be a little more encouraging than that, you know. ;)

C. S. Lewis defines the word “omnipotence” as “the power to do all that is intrinsically possible.” This means that God cannot make 2 + 2 = 5, for example. That is not a miracle; it is intrinsically impossible. I think this is a very biblically sound way to look at God’s omnipotence.

The Bible never actually uses the word “omnipotence,” (at least not the NASB) but it says that with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27, Luke 1:37). However, there are some things that are impossible for God to do; for example, Hebrews 6:18 says that it is impossible for God to lie. And we can extrapolate and say that since God is holy it is impossible for Him to go against His holy nature. He cannot be less than perfect.

He embodies all perfection, and that means that although He sets a perfect moral standard, He also values freedom, and the two are paradoxical. We see this tension in any political system—freedom and virtue are both important values, but any political system has to find a balance in order to protect freedom and encourage virtue. If we made it a crime to overeat, for example, we would have a healthier population, but it would be a terrible infringement on freedom. (Just about everybody in the US would be in prison. ;)

So if God had created robots, then we would meet His moral standard—at the cost of freedom. But freedom also means freedom to sin and reject Him.

God is the Judge of all the earth (Genesis 18:25), and He has set a perfect moral standard. In the new earth He has prepared for His redeemed for all eternity, everyone will meet it and also be perfectly free. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17). But in this life, we all fall short of that standard. In Adam, all have sinned and therefore we will all die (1 Corinthians 15:22). We are all biologically connected and the whole human race is born with a predisposition toward sin. We all “fall short of the glory of God,”—that is, we are not what God intends for us to be.

But just as in Adam all die, in Christ all will be made spiritually alive (1 Corinthians 15:22). All who are in Christ, that is. With His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus accomplished several things. First, He met a perfect moral standard on our behalf, and that involved dying for us, because John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” I think most agree that dying willingly to rescue someone else is the highest act of altruistic love. God had to do this to “fulfill all righteousness” and be true to His nature. Second, He paid the penalty for our sins (which is death) by suffering and dying for us. That satisfied the judgment against us and broke down the barrier between us and a holy God. And third, He offered us His Spirit, which is how He seals us as His own. The Bible analogizes this to as a marriage in that everything that belongs to Christ is now ours, and everything that is ours belongs to Christ. We are one with Christ. Because we belong to Him, His victory over sin and death belongs to us. And just like all humans are biologically connected through DNA, all those who belong to Christ are spiritually connected through the Holy Spirit. We have to surrender our sin and self-life to God and in return He gives us Himself and eternal life in the Paradise He has prepared for His people.

Anette Acker said...

This means that there is no such thing as a true follower of Christ who doesn’t increasingly bear the fruit of the Spirit. This is the evidence of our salvation. If we are connected to the vine, we will bear good fruit (John 15). That is a simple fact that the Bible makes very clear.

However, since God values freedom, He doesn’t force us to receive Him. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me.” So He asks for our surrender. This surrender is not just a one-time deal; it has to continue throughout our lives, because God calls us to freedom (Galatians 5:13). The more we surrender to Him, the more His Spirit fills us, and the more we become like Him. This is how He sanctifies us, while also preserving our freedom.

And when Jesus comes again, there will be a judgment of all the living and dead, where justice will be done. However, in this life, we are offered mercy and the right to become God’s children. Still, according to 1 Peter 1:17, this is not an unfair form of nepotism. It says, “If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth.” “Fear” is reverence—meaning that we have to live as if we believe what we profess to believe. That indicates that we really are His children.

Anette Acker said...

Craig,

I said in our earlier conversation (that we never wrapped up) that I am a combination of Calvinist and Arminian, and this is what I meant: An Arminian would say that Jesus "knocks" equally to all ("prevenient grace"). I do not agree with that. I think He knocks through our prayers and the preaching of His word, and the more Spirit-filled these means of grace the more likely that someone will "open the door." St. Augustine's mother prayed fervently for him for a long period of time, and not only was he converted, but he became St. Augustine.

This is essentially what Spurgeon said in the example of the lay brother and this is also what Andrew Murray (Dutch Reformed) taught. However, Revelation 3:20 states that if we "hear His voice," it is up to us to open the door, and this is where I disagree with 5-point Calvinism. Jesus does not overpower the will by forcing open the door. That would contradict both Revelation 3:20 and 1 Timothy 2:4. (God "desires" all to be saved, but not all are.)

stranger.strange.land said...

this is where I disagree with 5-point Calvinism. Jesus does not overpower the will by forcing open the door.

You may be closer to 5-point Calvinism than you realize. Five-PointCalvinism says:

"...this grace of regeneration does not treat men as senseless stocks and blocks, nor take away their will and it's properties, nor do violence thereto; but it spiritually quickens, heals, corrects, and at the same time sweetly and powerfully bends it, that where carnal rebellion and resistance formerly prevailed, a ready and sincere spiritual obedience begins to reign (Acts 2:46-47; Rom. 8:2);in which the true and spiritual restoration and freedom of our will consists (Ps. 51:12). Wherefore, unless the admirable Author of every good work so deal with us (Php 2:13), man can have no hope of being able to rise from his fall by his own free will, by which, in a state of innocence, he plunged himself into ruin." [Dort. III&IV.16]

I think He knocks through our prayers and the preaching of His word, and the more Spirit-filled these means of grace the more likely that someone will "open the door."

As one who constantly intercedes in prayer for the conversiion of sinners, and who regularly shares the gospel, I couldn't agree with you more. : )

Anette Acker said...

You may be closer to 5-point Calvinism than you realize.

Man, Craig, first you compare me to a Jehovah's Witness and then you compare me to a 5-point Calvinist. When are you going to stop with the ad hominems?

I'm totally kidding! :)

Yes, I know I'm close to 5-point Calvinism, but I see it as the difference between 99% and 100%. The distance is small but infinite. There is no way that I could accurately define my views by TULIP. Absolutely no way, because grace is not irresistible--all you can definitively say is that those God knows to be His elect (looking past time to the new earth) did not (or will not) resist grace.

So I'll have to remain just a Christian and not a Calvinist. (And I'm definitely not even remotely JW, but you know that.)

Anette Acker said...

By the way, my point about being just a Christian was that I don't see any further need to qualify it by being Calvinist, Arminian, Lutheran, etc. Obviously I wasn't saying that Calvinists aren't Christian.

stranger.strange.land said...

Man, Craig, first you compare me to a Jehovah's Witness and then you compare me to a 5-point Calvinist. When are you going to stop with the ad hominems?

Llol! I think I'll stop with "Calvinist." However, if I ever see you with a shaved head and sporting an orange robe, I may have to continue the merciless onslaught.

Re. "Calvinist" identity. Incidently, I am the only one in my church that uses "the 'C' word" to identify myself. "Reformed" is normally the accepted term, and I use that, too. Y'know, whichever I think will tend to get a good argume..... er, ...I mean conversation going. I am also the only one who carries a KJV to church. Stranger in a Strange Land wherever I go ;^)

Craig

Anette Acker said...

However, if I ever see you with a shaved head and sporting an orange robe, I may have to continue the merciless onslaught.

Hmm, I am wearing orange today (well, coral) and hair is overrated . . .